We're spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful places to swim around the islands, but with so much choice it can be difficult to know which spot to choose, especially for those who are new to wild swimming in Guernsey. Some bays are great for a high tide swim, whilst some work better at low tide. Some places are stunning at dawn and others are ideal to take in the setting sun. Maybe you're looking for a secluded spot, or a family friendly beach, either way this is the list for you.
We reached out to Guernsey Swim Adventures for help to find the best places for sea swimming, depending on the type of experience you're looking for. Here's what they told us...
The Horse Shoe at La Vallette bathing pools is an ideal winter morning spot, as it is out of the way of the Southerly winds and has good shelter where you can change easily. Bordeaux Harbour is also fabulous for a summer high tide swim at sunrise. Ensure that you stay safe within the harbour though, and stay visible to boats with a brightly coloured cap and tow buoy. Finally, Belvoir Bay in Herm is another early morning gem. It's definitely worth the early morning trek and you might just have the beach all to yourself. Heaven.
We know there's nothing better than a west coast sunset, but one way of making it better is being in the calm water to enjoy it. Anywhere along the Cobo and Grandes Rocques stretch of coast will not disappoint for a sunset dip, with Flag Rock as a backdrop and a selection of sundowner spots to choose from afterwards. West coast winner.
Petit Port is a top choice on a super large spring low tide. The sandy beach expands along the coast and you can wade across to Moulin Huet where a great view of the Peastacks wil be revealed. Pick up an ice cream from the kiosk and wade back to Petit Port. Start wading within 30 minutes of low tide unless you fancy swimming back. Perelle is also a fantastic bay for a low tide paddle and wallow. The water stays at knee to waist height for around 200m and if the sun is shining it can feel almost tropical.
You will be hard pushed to beat an early evening spring high tide swim from the Fort Grey slipway. If conditions are smooth, a 360 swim all the way around the Fort is fun, landing pretty much back where you started. Port Soif also transforms into a safe outdoor circular pool on a big spring high and feels really enclosed with soft powdery sand at entry and exit.
There are quite a few safe spots for family friendly swims with easy access and fun activities to enjoy before and afterwards. To begin with, Portelet Harbour is great at mid tide, when you will feel safe and enclosed by the piers. It's also a fun place to visit at low tide for a spot of rock pooling. Tag on a dog walk or quick scoot to the Fairy Ring and then you will all sleep soundly! Chouet is also a brilliant base for families in the summer. After your dip, you can grab a coffee and snack from the kiosk and wander along Ladies Bay to enjoy the beachside playground. Plus, at Les Amarreurs you can have fun pier jumping at mid to high tide. All three beaches are dog friendly. Petit Bot is a lovely cliff beach for early afternoon sunshine and on calm days you could hire a kayak for a mini adventure along to Le Jaonnet. There's also a kiosk very close to the beach for a quick ice cream. Sea swimming is all about the entire experience!
Both Pembroke and L'Ancresse are safe and sandy beaches with easy access. They're also very popular for distance training with each lap across the two bays being around 700m. There are toilets and beach kiosks on hand for post training requirements. For lunchtime swimmers, Havelet is really popular, either for training or for having a relaxed dip. Enter from the ice cream or Octopus slipways, or from the Bathing Pools at mid to high tide. Beware that it can be choppy at high tide if the swell is entering and bouncing off the wall. Make sure that you respect other water users and make yourself visible.
There are a few hard to reach places that many of us will never have tried. Here are a few that are worth the trip. The Sark Venus Pool is a tidal pool protected by granite cliffs, situated at the southern end of Little Sark where you can relax in the turquoise waters with a view of the sea. Tips are to visit two hours before or after low tide, wear good sturdy shoes and ask locals for directions! Next up, Fermain. With no car access you will need to trek along the cliff paths or walk down Fermain Hill to get to Fermain Bay. It's totally worth the hike to be greeted by an enclosed cliff bay with island views. It's also a great spot because added bonuses of toilet facilities and the Beach Cafe. La Jaonnet is a walk along the cliffs from Icart carpark, or if you are feeling fit you can also walk from Petit Bot. Access is via steep steps and a ladder. At low tide you can walk through the rocky gully to La Bette or if you are confident you could swim 300m around the reef. Don't forget to take some water for your hike home. Another favourite is Saints Bay. To get there, park on Saints hill and be prepared for a fairly steep descent to a pretty bay sheltered from South westerly winds... with, again, a cute kiosk and toilet facilities so no need to rush around.
The stroll from Jerbourg carpark will reconnect you with nature and a view of Herm and Sark through the trees, as you make your way to Marble Bay and Divette. There is currently no direct access to Divette, so Marble Bay is your gateway to swim to Divette’s strip of golden sand which is nestled between two reefs - a winner for swimmers! Portelet Bay is a 300m swim, one way, from Petit Bot at low tide. You will be rewarded with a lovely sandy beach and a feeling of peace and tranquility. Sounds like heaven.
The slipways across the Island all have their own swimming communities, and many of these groups have been swimming for years, enjoying the chat and coffee almost as much as the swim! On the other side of social... there are many good kiosks and restaurants strewn along the coast where you can eat with a view of the bay, serving a wide variety of food from beach kiosk snacks to seafood platters, which is always ideal for refuelling after a nice dip.
"We're not telling! The fun is in the discovery... Enjoy!"
The most important thing to note when trying our sea swimming - or new areas to swim in - is SAFETY FIRST. Here is a bonus mini-list from Guernsey Swim Adventures to remind you to always stay safe and be seen.
1. Plan your swim.
2. Know your tides.
3. Check out the local weather. (Local favourite Guernsey Weather Fox includes information on wind direction, tides, surf and swell)
4. Acclimatise (i.e. get in slowly!).
5. Swim with a buddy.
6. Swim to your ability.
7. Be bright and visible.
8. Respect other water users.
9. Have a warm drink after your swim.
10. Don't forget to bring dry clothes.
A great way to discover new bays is to sign up to the 30 Bays in 30 Days event during July for Les Bourgs Hospice. It's an opportunity to meet new swimmers and raise funds for a wonderful local charity at the same time. You've still got time to join in and catch up!
Images kindly supplied by Guernsey Swim Adventures